In My Kitchen – March 2016

In My Kitchen March 2017 Mullixhiu restaurant Cornelian Cherry
Raspberries from Eagle Farm market and Cornelian cherries from Mullixhiu restaurant, Tirana.

We’re just back from a quick trip to Albania and Italy so goodies from both countries feature prominently in my kitchen this month. Albania was a complete revelation for us – weird and wonderful, interesting, friendly, great food and very cheap. I’ll be writing more about it in future posts but let’s just say that you can have a lovely meal for two people, with wine, in a nice restaurant for about $25.

The highlight of our visit was discovering Mullixhiu, a restaurant run by chef Bledar Kola, who is a member of the Slow Food movement and produces beautiful food using local ingredients. He even has a small flour mill on site to grind the grain for the bread they make each day in the restaurant.

In My Kitchen March 2017 Albania Mullixhiu Flour
Beautiful wholemeal flours made on site at Mullixhiu restaurant, Tirana, Albania.

By sheer chance, we got talking to Bledar and he very kindly gave us some flour to bring home, as well as a jar of fruit in syrup that we had enjoyed with a cheesecake-like dessert. He called these thana and from my research after we got home, I’m pretty sure they are Cornelian cherries. They were quite tart and nicely complemented the sweetness of the dessert. We’ve yet to open the jar so I’ve photographed them with a bowl of yummy raspberries that we bought at the weekend from the Eagle Farm market (our first visit to this Brisbane market, by the way – we were impressed).

In My Kitchen March 2017 Pomegranates at Tirana Market
Pomegranates in the market in central Tirana.

While we were in Albania, we visited a food market in central Tirana, where we bought the most incredible pomegranates. They were huge and juicy – we couldn’t believe the amount of arils (seed pods) they contained. They were eaten in our Albanian kitchen, but I wanted to include the photo here so you can share in my excitement. We had a full kitchen in our self-contained apartment at the Lowen Inn Bed & Breakfast, which cost 45 euros a night and had a fantastic location close to all the restaurants and bars.

In My Kitchen March 2017 Products from Puglia
Swag of products we brought back from Puglia: jams, olive oil and wine.

From Albania, we took the ferry to Bari, Italy, where we spent just over a week exploring Puglia. As well as being Italy’s largest wine-producing region by volume, Puglia produces 40% of Italian olive oil and has a staggering 60 million olive trees, two million of which are 2,000+ years old. They are quite a sight as you travel around this lovely region which I’ve decided is one of my favourite regions of Italy.

We brought back quite a few bottles of olive oil, jams, wine, recipes, and even some herbal teabags from Vivosa Apulia Resort. They contain escolzia, scented verbena, chamomile, Melissa and lavender, and I’ve been enjoying this “antistress magic potion” at home to indulge in, as the box suggests, a “moment of true relaxation throughout the day or just before going to bed.”

In My Kitchen March 2017 Anti-Stress Tea
Anti-stress tea from Salento, in southern Puglia.

I’ve had my copy of the book, Sharing Puglia, since before we went on this trip and I reviewed it on Food Wine Travel a bit over a year ago. But it’s been great fun pulling it out for another read since we’ve been back as it means so much more to me now. I also love this little book we bought in the beautiful town of Lecce.

In My Kitchen March 2017 Puglia books
Dipping into these books brings back happy memories.

Maurie and I are enjoying being back in our Redcliffe kitchen, using these products that remind us of our travels. This month we’ll be celebrating St Patrick’s Day so there are some green-themed goodies in our kitchen too 🙂

In My Kitchen March 2017 St Patrick's Day Cupcake
A nod to St Patrick’s Day.

Pop in and visit my friend Liz at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things, the host of In My Kitchen, where you can take a peek into lots of lovely kitchens.

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  • Amazing array of goodies in your March kitchen, Christine. I was surprised to see that you were allowed to bring flour back in from overseas. Thank you for the very kind shout out xx

  • Wish you had included a photo of your temporary kitchen… trying out local ingredients creates some of the most enjoyable moments of travel! Your jar of cherries is beautiful.

    best… mae at

    • Thanks Mae, I never thought of including a photo of our Albanian kitchen as to be honest we didn’t use it much – there were so many excellent cheap restaurants to dine at. But I’ll probably do a post about the hotel at some stage, so I’ll try to include it in that. Cheers, Christine.

  • Albania!? Ooh so jelly. Would love to go there. Remember some years ago there was suddenly all these movies that mentioned Albania? It became like a running joke:). Love the look of those cherries. Your green patty cakes are so cute.

  • I’m excited about those pomegranates, too, Christine — what beauties! Albania sounds like a fascinating country. Glad you got to meet the chef and experience a wonderful meal there, too. As for Puglia… olives (and olive oil) direct from the source must taste incredible. 2000 year old trees?! That certainly puts a perspective on things. Loved your “calm-looking” tea photo and also your festive green cupcake!

    • Thank you so much for all your kind comments, Kim. Yes, Albania was fascinating and we loved Puglia too. Olive trees as far as the eye can see! They really are remarkable trees.

  • Thanks for introducing both these lovely destinations so beautifully and enhancing them with your great photos. I’d have thought at first the cherries might have also been morellos but there’s obviously many more kinds. And the age of those Puglian olive trees! Puglia and Lecce used to be quite the haunt of expat gentleman and lady Brits in Lord Byron’s time at the beginning of the nineteenth century. I wonder if some of them have left their mark there, rather like those Brits in Sicily around about the same time or maybe a bit later, who created Marsala and the large market for it ever since.
    We’re currently visiting Lorne and the Great Ocean Road area of Victoria with a nephew from Germany.

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